Consider consumerisation

More individuals are using their own devices for corporate data and users are turning to applications provided through social networks or app stores

Tags: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)ConsumerisationTrend Micro Incorporated
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Consider consumerisation Cesasre Garlati senior director of consumerisation at Trend Micro says that organisations need to embrace BYOD.
By  Mark Sutton Published  April 12, 2012

More individuals are using their own devices for corporate data and users are turning to applications provided through social networks or app stores. This consumerisation of IT is leaving IT managers feeling uneasy about losing control of their IT environment. NME speaks to Cesar Garlati, senior director of consumerisation at Trend Micro, who says it is time to embrace consumerisation.

There is little doubt that the consumerisation of IT is already well under way. A quick glance around most offices will show different devices like tablets and smartphones being used for work tasks, without having been provided by the organisation itself. Gartner described consumerisation as the most significant trend affecting IT over the next ten years.

A February 2012 survey by Decisive Analytics of companies in the US, UK and Germany showed that 78% of businesses allowed employees to use personal devices such as laptops, netbooks, smartphones, and tablets for work activities. The same survey also showed that most companies are already taking steps to manage the trend, with 89% applying a security policy to employee-owned devices, and 80% requiring employees to install security software on their devices.

But the survey also suggests that the range of tactics and approaches towards securing employee devices does not appear to be highly successful, with 47% of respondents reporting a data or security breach due to an employee owned device accessing the corporate network. Cesar Garlati of Trend Micro says that while IT decision makers should not be afraid of allowing consumerisation in their organisations, they need to have a good grasp of the fundamental changes to the role of the IT department that it implies.

“The first step is understanding how different the consumerisation trend is, and how disruptive the impact is on IT,” Garlati says. “Consumerisation is really effecting the role of corporate IT within the organisation. IT is no longer really driving the technology strategy for the company, and it is also no longer providing technology infrastructure, but more and more it is becoming a partner of the line of business and becoming a broker and an enabler for some other decisions in terms of technology to happen.”

The proliferation of affordable devices, and affordable connectivity, is driving consumer adoption of devices, he says, and people want to use these devices for work. But it is not just consumer hardware that is having an impact. Applications that are designed primarily for a consumer market, are proving more attractive to end users to carry out their everyday business, and the use of consumer applications needs to be considered.

“BYOD is what everyone fears today, it is about devices, physical objects. What people don’t see are the applications, and the services, that consumers procure in a consumer market ie. Skype, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter, there are so many,” he says.

Consumerisation not only poses a risk of data loss or breaches to corporate networks, Garlati points out, but has other implications too. Cost of IT is no longer managed by an IT manager with a budget. Purchasing is done piecemeal, and at retail prices. In addition, employees are buying devices, and applications and connectivity services, then reclaiming the expenses, leaving no control or insight into costs.

There are benefits to allowing consumerisation however, such as improved productivity and a more agile workforce that is better able to respond customer requirements. For an IT organisation to manage the trend properly, Garlati says that a three step plan is required.

“Consumerisation is happening, and can not be stopped. The lack of a strategic approach to consumerisation creates security risks, but also financial exposure and a management nightmare for IT. So instead of trying to resist it, the right approach is to embrace it.

One, have a plan that expands across the organisation. Secondly have a set of flexible standards, and the third is to put these new IT security and management tools in place because this is a new world and they need new tools,” he says.

The organisation needs to understand the requirements of its workforce and canvas early adopters on their needs. Once the overall requirements have been determined, then the IT department and stakeholders can create policies to govern consumerisation. In developing policies, the organsiation needs to understand its different types of users, their roles, and how they will interact with the corporate data and corporate infrastructure.

“IT should not have a single standard, they should have a set of flexible standards, they should never say no, but they should not say yes to everything,” he says.

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